The U.S. Coast Guard preceded its big brother, the U.S. Navy, by eight years. It dates back to August 1790 when President George Washington signed the Tariff Act. That’s right, Washington was a “tariff man.”
One feature of being in the military service of the United States was, and is, that we pay our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. At least, we did until now. (Don’t email me with links to the Bonus Army Riots–those were veterans whose benefits were snatched by the government, which has been another long tradition with our nation. When they were on active duty, those Bonus Army soldiers received their pay.)
The “partial” government shutdown did not include the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration, both of which remain fully funded. But the Department of Homeland Security, the agency under which the Coast Guard finds itself, budget-wise, is caught up in the $5.8 billion border wall war between Congress and the White House.
It’s a disgrace that our 56,000 affectionately named “Coasties” are not being paid. They can’t quit. They can’t call in sick. And they are still serving with distinction despite the financial distress.
On Wednesday, January 9, a 30-foot vessel capsized off the coast of the Florida Keys, sending Sean Johnson, Craig Zetwick, and Ken Kuhfuss into the water. One of the victims was able to radio for help, and the Coast Guard dispatched a 45-foot Response Boat—Medium from Key West. Once on scene, the Coasties found the three men hanging onto the hull of their capsized vessel. Although one man had on a life vest, the other two did not. Coasties swiftly rescued the men—none of whom had any serious injuries—and returned them safely to shore.
These men and women are out there saving lives, while their own families worry about how to feed their children at home.
Fortier Morales’ husband is still active duty in the Guard and is the sole breadwinner for their South Carolina family, which includes a 5-month-old baby girl. She said he brought home nothing this week, along with the more than 40,000 other active duty members, thanks to the partisan bickering in Washington over a wall along the southern border.
“We’re missing our family’s income and with a 5-month-old daughter, and me being a fulltime grad student, yeah, that puts stress on us,” she said, adding if the impasse and shutdown continue her family might have to take out a loan or seek help from family. USA Today, Jan 16, 2019
Plaudits to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Shame on our government. Shame on them that they can’t agree to fund these seagoing heroes who save lives, prevent terrorism, and defend our waters.
But Democrats and their lickspittle media pets want to focus on keeping agencies closed that cause Americans to suffer the most. They want the TSA to make airport lines intolerably long. They want air traffic controllers to walk out and incapacitate our air travel system. They want farmers to miss their loan deadlines for crop planting. They want legitimate families in need of food stamps and other federal assistance to suffer so they can exploit it for their own political ends.
They are more concerned with defeating President Donald Trump–at all costs, and in any way–than they are at paying the Coast Guard, or the TSA, or the USDA. They’ll only “open the government” at the expense of 0.01% of the federal budget, an expense that they had approved when Presidents Bush and Obama made similar improvements at the border.
The cost of the border barrier (wall) is no different than the latest six Coast Guard Legend Class National Security Cutters. The last of these, the USCGC Stone, just had its hull laid down in September 2018. For the cost of these cutters, the entire Coast Guard is being held hostage, along with 750,000 other federal workers.
This isn’t about the wall, it’s about raw power.
Republicans aren’t innocent either. After two years of controlling both houses of Congress, they didn’t fund Trump’s wall. They waited until they lost the House in the midterms, and then they didn’t fund it in the last month Congress was in session. They waited until Democrats had power, and then they tossed the issue in the president’s lap so Democrats would take the blame.
I thought we had, in Lincoln’s words, a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” but we have failed. We have failed those who have served since 1790. That those 56,000 Coasties continue to serve is deserving of plaudits. That the 538 legislators in Washington can’t find the will to pay them is deserving of our unending shame.
It’s a national disgrace.